If you are going through a divorce in Fort Worth, and you have a child, you may be wondering how the courts determine custody. The state generally prefers a joint custody arrangement, but this varies depending on each situation. A judge considers a variety of factors before making a decision, and each parent will have the opportunity to present reasons as to why they deserve custody.
A Child’s Age and Needs Are Important
One consideration in determining child custody is the age and needs of the child. A baby or younger child has needs that differ from a school-aged child, and one parent may have a better bond at certain ages than others. The child’s school schedule and extracurricular activities are factors, as well as their mental and physical health needs. Relationships with other family members may also be a factor.
Considering a Child’s Best Interest
The focus is on what is in the best interest of the child, so one of the things a Fort Worth child custody lawyer does is interview one or both parents to determine their ability to care for the child. A judge will look at finances, work schedules, and the current living situation, as consistency is important. The judge will also consider the physical and mental health of each parent and the ability to provide a safe home life.
What Are the Child Wants?
In Texas, the judge must also consider the child’s wishes, as long as the child is at least 12 years old and is mature enough to understand what is going on. During an interview, the judge will ask the child a number of questions and about his or her preference of who to live with, school, and other issues. Although this is not a final determining factor, the judge considers the wishes along with the other circumstances.
A Judge’s Decision
Determining child custody is not always easy, and the child’s needs are more important than the parent’s emotional preferences. Based on the factors presented, a judge is able to make an informed decision. The custody order should ensure that the child receives the care and love needed and thrives in the custody arrangement.